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Addiction and Mental Illness in the Suburbs

Addiction and Mental Illness in the Suburbs

Rarely do people associate suburban life with drug abuse and mental illness

Due to the stigmas surrounding addiction and mental illness, it is easy to believe that these issues only affect those in poor or urban neighborhoods. However, these illnesses can affect anyone, including those who live in the suburbs. When we think of suburban San Diego neighborhoods, most people picture a happy family living together in a modest house. Rarely do people associate suburban life with drug abuse and mental illness. However, these disorders occur frequently, even if they are kept hidden from others.

Functional Addiction in the Suburbs

Addiction is unfortunately common in areas of the country like San Diego. In fact, the San Diego Indicators of Alcohol and Other Drug Use reports that there were as many as 501 admissions to addiction treatment centers for every 100,000 people in 2008. Methamphetamine, alcohol, marijuana, and heroin use accounted for a majority of these admissions. This drug and alcohol abuse extends far beyond the city into the surrounding suburbs.

However, sometimes instead of being debilitated by their addiction, those living in financially stable suburbs often experience what is called a functional addiction. This form of addiction occurs when an individual is able to maintain his or her responsibilities despite the presence of an addiction. Those with functional addictions may still be able to go to work or school every day and perform as if there was no underlying substance problem. They may come home and seem to enjoy their evening with family or friends with no indication that an addiction is present.  However, even functional addiction can have devastating effects on an individual’s relationships with family and friends. Children of functional addicts often experience emotional neglect or disconnection and may have a hard time trusting the adults in their lives.

When an addict’s substance abuse begins to interfere with work, they then risk termination of employment. Many who are unable to separate their addiction from work end up unemployed and are unable to find new jobs. This is how many addicts end up moving from the suburbs to poor neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to recover lost finances in the midst of addiction.

Mental Illness in the Suburbs

Mental illness is another problem in suburban neighborhoods, just like addiction. However, many people in these areas suffer from mental illness like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Several factors influence whether or not a person develops one of these illnesses, and it may or may not include location. For example, a veteran living in the suburbs may suffer from combat-related PTSD. Likewise, single mothers or fathers in the suburbs may develop depression as they work to maintain the best lives for their children

Treating Addiction and Mental Illness

One of the key differences between poor and suburban neighborhoods is the availability of treatment for problems like addiction and mental illness. Those living in the suburbs may be more likely to get the treatment they need for these problems for several reasons. The greatest barrier to treatment in poor communities is financial. However, this is not as much of a concern for those in the suburbs with steady jobs. Those in the suburbs are also more likely to have available transportation to their treatment center, whether it is a personal vehicle or public transportation. Factors like these benefit suburban residents by allowing them to focus on treatment rather than logistics.

Get Help for Addiction or Mental Illness

If you or a loved one in San Diego suffers from addiction or mental illness, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment options.